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Near the Sorbonne or the University of Paris, the Latin Quarter of Paris sits on the left or southern side of the River Seine. Since the Quarter caters to the student population, prices are less expensive than they are in other parts of the city. Within the area are homes in use today that were first occupied in the Middle Ages. In the district, beyond the main boulevards are medieval streets where shops and international restaurants are found. The historic district for higher learning has an understandably young and vibrant ambience with jazz clubs and cafes as well as numerous historic buildings, monuments and thoroughfares.
The name “Latin Quarter” comes from the Middle Ages when students came into the district from all over Europe to study, and Latin was the common language spoken and taught. Latin was long the language of the learned. Besides the Sorbonne, other institutes of higher learning are still located inside the Latin Quarter like Jussieu University and Schola Cantorum.
The Latin Quarter including the Sorbonne was built over the ancient Roman urban center that included a Roman road connecting to distant cities, Roman thermal baths and a theater as well as an amphitheatre and other buildings and structures. The city that Rome settled was known as Lutetia. Ruins and reminders of ancient Roman history in the region of Paris’ current 5th arrondissement add their importance to the Latin Quarter of today.
The Latin Quarter Today
Taking some of the narrow cobblestone streets, visitors can mix with local residents and get the real feel of Paris. Lingering for an hour or two at an outdoor cafe is perfect for soaking in the atmosphere. While visitors can enjoy listening to the people around them speaking in French, the shop and restaurant employees know enough English to explain their shop wears and menu items to those who mainly speak English. Additionally, many of the citizens of Paris do know at least some conversational English.
To be noted, construction is always taking place in some parts of the Latin Quarter just like in any other city. Visitors should take care to watch traffic around the construction obstacles because some streets allowing cars are extremely narrow, and many of the narrowest streets have bike routes. All of the close buildings and busy streets add to the feel and excitement of the Latin Quarter. Still, it is wise to pay attention and meander safely.
Small boutique hotels in the region have reasonable rates. These simple accommodations are very near many of Paris’ most-loved attractions. Small apartments are also available within the Quarter that are convenient for short and long stays.
A wonderful place to explore, the Latin Quarter today is the place to find history and good food at great prices. Galleries of local artists, museums like the Cluny Museum, restaurants, and shops are some of the places people can discover for themselves during a day in the Latin Quarter.